With a new, improved, and truly innovative professional landscape as well as being the reigning champion for America’s fastest growing sport, the stage is set for an extremely wild and entertaining year of pickleball in 2023. Don’t just take it from me though, take it from the PPA’s Founder & CEO, Connor Pardoe:
With all this excitement on the horizon, it might be time you key in on these five shots to take your pickleball game to the next level!
These are in no particular order and are not necessarily the five most important shots in pickleball, but instead a collection of chess moves and winners you can start hitting to steal points and games on the regular!
Starting off our list is the drop volley! With this shot, you have to be careful when you use it or you’ll be inviting your opponents right to the kitchen line.
To execute it, wait until your opponents are at or behind the baseline and are not in a position to follow their shot forward, make it look like you’re about to hit a hard smash or aggressive roll volley, and then gently drop the ball just over the net with some backspin when they least expect it.
This shot requires a bit of practice to really develop a consistent touch, but is well worth it!
Next up is a personal favorite of mine, the Erne. The term was first coined by Jeff Shank who watched Erne Perry utilize this loophole at the 2010 Pickleball Nationals over and over hitting winner after winner.
Most people understand the basics of leaping over the Non-Volley Zone to take a ball out of the air and put it away, but fewer players understand the best way to set yourself up for this electric smash.
When you’re in a dinking situation and your opponent hits a dead dink that you feel comfortable attacking but is not high enough to speed-up, you’re going to want to dink up the line, getting the ball just past your opponent.
This makes it extremely challenging for them to go cross-court, often forcing them to dink back up the line. Of course, you anticipated this and are midair ready to obliterate that pickleball!
An additional pro tip is to consider an elongated paddle for the invaluable extra reach; hence my affinity for the the Baddle Ballista.
Leave a dink a little high? Drop shot bounced up above the net? Playing against stubborn bangers? No need to fear, backhand counter is here! In all seriousness, you can block their speed-ups and drives all day long but a firm backhand counter will win you points and send a message.
Next time you know your opponent is about to speed it up right at you, stay calm and rip it right back! This shot doesn’t require a ton of drilling, just a little courage & confidence!
Not for the faint of heart, developing a consistent volley lob requires more than a few failed lobs getting crushed right back at you (and the occasional annoyed look from your partner). But, once you get the touch down, it’s a phenomenal way to flip the court in your favor and gain some momentum!
My favorite time to pull this shot out is when a ball is dinked to me in the yellow zone, around net height but not quite high enough to feel confident speeding up.
However, your opponent will often anticipate that speed up, bending their knees and setting their body up for a firefight. That’s when a slight push redirecting the ball up arching over them catches them off guard, sending them reeling back and putting your team in position to win the point!
Shake & Bake
Finally, a trendy favorite rising in popularity - the shake & bake. If you or your partner have an electric drive and the other has lightning-fast hands, you should be shaking and baking your way to wins on the daily.
The execution is pretty straightforward; one player rips a third shot drive while the other crashes towards the kitchen ready to pounce on a pop up or force a firefight.
Due to the quick hands required, you want to make sure you have a maneuverable paddle with a large sweet spot, like the Baddle Lancer Pro Paddle.
The shake & bake is also a great builder of team camaraderie, although, most of the shots on this list are as well! They make points exciting and can turn the tides of a match in an instant.
So next time you’re driving to the courts thinking of what to work on today, consider one of these 5 shots!
Our friends over at Pickleball University have a great, and free, e-book download that's a great pickleball starter guide. We recommend checking it out if you're looking for more information on shot types and pickleball rules in general.
Written by Cody Brick, Baddle Ambassador